Here’s my beef with the new Disney movies coming out today – or at least with the people who say that “for once Disney is doing things right”. Sure Frozen was fun, Maleficent was… well Angelina Jolie did a good evil laugh, and Moana was powerful. But what’s the deal calling the old Princesses weak and pathetic? What’s weak about femininity, gentleness, and kindness?
Obviously we get the “You can’t marry someone you met in a day” joke, but that’s why it’s called a fairytale. I don’t agree with this new lesson people want to teach their kids now, that the only way to be a strong person is to not need a man and to be outspoken and different. While those are all wonderful qualities and traits to have, and while I agree with all of them, there is also strength in choosing your battles, trying to see the very best in people, and quietly keeping your head high when times get tough. Disney of old still has some wonderful and beautiful things to say. Why can’t we listen to them too?
To be honest, I’m more of a Belle than a Cinderella myself. I was always the headstrong girl who stood up to bullies and talked back to people who treated me and especially someone I cared about unkindly. But as I got older I appreciated Cinderella more. The more battles I fought in life, the more I learned when to be Belle and when to be Cinderella. When to speak up, and when to concede for the sake of those around you. When to fight, and when to treat meanness with kindness. When to persist, and when to let go.
That was one of the things I didn’t like about the live action Beauty and the Beast. I felt like it was trying too hard to send the message that the strength Belle showed was the only kind of strength that mattered. “I am not a Princess. I am a Feminist. I am an inventor. I am not a simple girl. This is not a fairytale.” While that’s all well and good I couldn’t help but compare it to the live action Cinderella. There’s a reason Beauty and the Beast scored a 90 in my book (despite Belle being my favorite), and Cinderella scored a 110.
It’s not like Cinderella waited around for someone to save her. She persevered, she quietly looked for a better life for herself, and when she found it she remained humble and good, and in the end even forgave those who hurt and abused her. There is so much strength in that.
There is nothing wrong with a good old “Once Upon a Time”. It teaches kids that you can find magic in everyday things – in goodness and in love. It teaches them hope. Cinderella went through so much in life, so much heartache and so much abuse, yet she held herself with grace and dignity because of the promise she made to her mother, and the memory she held of her goodhearted father. She never played the victim, she always treated everyone equally, and through it all she always, always believed that things would turn out okay in the end, for as long as she was brave and kind.
“Just because it’s what’s done, doesn’t mean it’s what should be done!”
Cinderella made no apologies for being a fairytale, and she made no apologies for being who she was.
So yes, I’m all for celebrating the new heroines of the age. But let’s also celebrate the first Princesses who taught equally important lessons. Let’s send the message that there is strength in different kinds of women. That there is strength in all of us.
“I am Cinderella, your Majesty, I am no Princess. I have no carriage, no parents, no dowry. I do not even know if that beautiful slipper will fit.
But, if it does will you take me as I am? A good honest country girl who loves you?”
“You have more kindness in your little finger,
than most people possess in their whole body.
And it has power, more than you know. And magic.”
*All photos by Christine Day Lorico